2122071509_9d3bb40b0a_zScenario 1: Imagine you’re the marketing head at Mercedes-Benz, and you have a killer 30s ad that has to air in Germany, France, Britain and Italy. You get the voice done four times, once per national language. No problem.

Then you air it on cable across Asia-Pacific on an English-language news channel. Hmm. The UK spot is too British, so you get an Asian English VO talent. When you get the quote, it’s big. You scratch your head and call up the agency, and they tell you one word: Loading.

Scenario 2: You’ve paid for the voice on an ad that will be on Free-To-Air (FTA) channels in one market, then decide to also advertise on social media. Same ad & territory, just new media. The agency tells you that you’re going to have to pay the voice talent and the music supplier extra money. Why? Loading.

Scenario 3: You’ve voiced a TV spot in Singapore in Mandarin; the price was the market rate for Singapore, and you’re happy. You decide to air the spot FTA in China, where Mandarin is the national language. The additional loading is multiple times bigger than the original rate. Why? Well – as porn actresses will tell you, not all loads are the same.

When you advertise in multiple markets & media with the same spot, you pay more because of loading. The ad will have an additional cost to air in every additional country, and voice talents, like models, have adopted a system of charging where a single market is relatively low (esp if the country is small) but if you want to use it in other territories, they add a loading fee as it’s used for more countries (scenario 1). If you want to use your spot across different media (and each additional media will charge you), the voice talent’s loading will reflect this as well (scenario 2). And, if you start out with a small country like Singapore with its 5 million population and then want to air the same spot in a country like China with its 1.1 billion population (who speak Mandarin), the loading for China will be more than the cost of the original voice (scenario 3).

So how much is the loading fee? In a country with voice/actor unions, it’s fixed percentages. In Asia, there are relatively few unions (off the top of my head, I can’t think of any: maybe Japan?), so it’s a free-for-all: loadings are negotiated.

To the talents, I’d advise that they don’t get greedy. (please see 1st AND 2nd footnote)

To the clients, I’d recommend setting realistic budgets for any spot that will air in multiple territories and across various media.

There’s usually a happy consensus out there for both sides. There are a few sites online that offer suggested rates, but if it’s Asia, remember nothing you read there is legally binding.

One footnote to share: I have one UK English female voice in Singapore who always asks for moon-shot money whenever loading is involved. She’ll drop silly comments like “let’s see if they are willing to pay proper rates” – funny considering there are no unions here. She’s lost more than a few jobs because she was adamant that she deserved a 400% or 500% loading when the client budgeted an extra 100% – 200% for loading.  I’ve been happy when someone else is chosen and gets a good paying voice gig and earns the loading without being difficult.

Second footnote to share: when you negotiate a loading rate, it’s poor form to try to raise that rate if the client wants to use the ad beyond the initial period. The original price was probably negotiated down from your usual rate – remember we’re discussing non-union countries, an extension is not a chance to claw back the discount given. I had a voice today (14/11/16) send me a renewal demand that was 2x the first year, because “that is my rate” for the media involved, ignoring what she had previously agreed in year one. We’re in this together, I never begrudge paying a voice talent as much as the budget will allow, but this kind of behaviour is how you get blacklisted as a talent.

Photo by Toms Baugis